for wider knowledge of students’ rights, Ross inserted a flowchart in her book that teachers
can follow in order to determine if censoring speech is proper. She further suggests that
that all teachers and administrators get an overview of First Amendment rights when they
begin teaching. Lawyers for schools should educate the staff so there are not violations of
First Amendment Rights. Ross suggests “freedom of speech in schools is essential to
preserving democracy and intellectual inquiry.”
As much as Tinker seemed to expand the rights of students, in actuality, students
continue to face unjustifiable censorship everyday. Where students are limited in what they
can say, administrators have the broad ability to censor almost all speech. Even if a student
does use some form of protected speech, the likelihood that the school will be aware that
the speech is protected is low. Furthermore, schools are protected from improperly
censoring speech through qualified immunity. Ross points out in her book the need for
schools to protect these rights of students. Students need to ask questions and find a voice
in order to grow. This is not possible when speech is censored to the point where a child
does not know if their statement will be celebrated speech or will have them suspended
Ross has high hopes for student’s rights in schools, however, it may be difficult to
implement these ideas in a school setting. Teachers are required to make split second
decisions everyday regarding how to best keep control of their classrooms and further
students education. The Supreme Court has established a difficult and often contradictory
precedent to follow, which is incredibly challenging for teachers to apply on a daily basis.
Although Ross’ ideas for student speech would protect the rights of students as well as
have massive educational benefits, they would also place a large burden on teachers who
would find difficulty in properly implementing her ideas in a classroom environment.
Nevertheless, Ross raises an important issue which is the delicate balance that must be
struck between a student’s constitutional right to free speech with a school’s need to limit
disruption and inappropriate conduct.
Bethel School District v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675, 688 (1986).
CATHERINE ROSS, LESSONS IN CENSORSHIP: HOW SCHOOLS AND COURTS SUBVERT STUDENTS’ FIRST
AMENDMENT RIGHTS 13, 26, 85, 104 (2015).
Dana Point, Yearbook Staff Opts Not To Print Photo of Student Making Statement With Headscarf, CBS L.A.
(Feb. 17, 2016),
Press Release, Frank D. LoMonte, Survey: One-third of Journalism Students, Teachers Nationwide Report
Administrative Censorship(Feb. 18, 2014),